Attending college is already a stressful feat within itself, so the decision between living on or off-campus may seem like an issue that doesn’t need a lot of contemplation. On-campus right? Usually, this is a no-brainer as students are looking to receive the “full college experience” and they feel like living on campus provides the social experience and convenience that must be the best decision. Being within a short walking distance of classes, in a building full of like-minded college students, having most everything as far as living expenses taken care of; it has got to be a more favorable option. Especially at a small school like Siena, with virtually no off-campus life, the option to live off campus is rarely discussed. Students assume that there must be more cons than pros and that the experience of living off-campus could never parallel the on-campus experience. Well, by the end of this article I hope that you realize there is a whole other world you are missing out on! Here is why living off-campus is your hidden gem in the college world:
First of all, whether you’re paying for your college or not, Siena is quite expensive! Living on campus adds an average of $4,000-$5,000 to your bill, not including the meal plans which can cost upwards of $1,000! The easiest argument to go back to is that you cannot put a price on experience but, I think once you hear these numbers and my following argument for experience, there is room for reconsideration. Previously, I was a commuter at Siena and just this semester I moved into an off-campus apartment about five minutes from the college. In comparison, with utilities, I pay about $500 a month for the two-bedroom apartment that my roommate and I share. So, in the year lease, I pay $6,000. For an entire year, I pay only a little more than what Siena charges for one semester and that includes the summer! This also includes laundry, garbage disposal, heat, parking, etc., all the amenities that Siena living also provides. You can’t argue with the numbers, you are saving $5,000 a year in room and board by moving off campus and you are provided with the same amenities! Now, concerning food, that is an added cost but, I’ve found that the commuter meal plan x2 (which only amounts to about $260) covers an average semester of eating on campus and then you grocery shop for whatever you want to eat and you can control the budget! Per year, as far as meal plans, this is still a huge savings and will definitely amount to less than the average of $4,000 that is usually spent. Also, the gas that you spend in traveling to school is really negligible in the amount of money that you save living off-campus because there are so many apartments that are within 5-10 minutes of the school! Personally, I can go 3+ weeks without filling my tank, so it’s really not an added expense. Overall, there are HUGE savings in moving off-campus that everyone is missing out on!
Ok so here is the major argument. The vast majority of people ask me: don’t you feel like you’re missing out being off-campus? My response to this stereotype is: absolutely not! College is all about putting yourself out there and making new connections. This absolutely does not have to be sacrificed living off-campus! It’s honestly extremely easy to make the time for social experiences, being so close, and I have made more friends than I ever could have imagined! I, too, believed that I would have a harder time adjusting to college life not living on campus but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Join clubs, go to sports events, reach out to friends in your classes, the social possibilities are endless! I have met some of my best friends just from going that extra mile and making myself available. Even as a biology major that lives off-campus, I have found many weekends that I am able to go out and have fun without any more stress than the average Siena resident. I have found nothing missing from my experience that my on-campus friends have and in my apartment complex my entire building is actually college females (I got really lucky there). As you can see, there is really nothing lacking from experience if you really put your mind to it, off-campus students can have all the great experiences on-campus students do!
Another popular argument is that it is too much work to live off-campus and that can cut into study/social time. This is completely untrue in my opinion and almost irrelevant considering the amount of money that can be saved! It only takes me five minutes to drive to Siena for my classes and I have the freedom to stay as long as I like, be social and do work and I also am able to leave and go to my apartment whenever I need a break from campus life. I really think walking in the bitter cold to class is more of an inconvenience than driving your warm car to class! Also, the added grocery trips are really not an inconvenience at all and I would want extra food on-campus anyway. I really love that I can make myself a home-cooked meal and pick out the food that I eat personally. Many students on-campus don’t have the option to do this as easily as I do! It’s also nice to have your friends just a walk away, but living off-campus is a way to experience new people and new friends. Just in my building alone, I have six girls that could turn into some wonderful friendships, so there is really no missing link there. In addition, my roommate and I have our own bedrooms and so much personal space. It’s very hard to find that on campus and has honestly made a world of difference.
I hope that this article has given you some good insight on the idea of living off-campus! I strongly believe it provides very important life skills that are missing in college, for example, the paying of bills that you don’t have to worry about on-campus. Moving into a new place really teaches you the ins and outs of self-living that are extremely valuable once out of college. It is important to get this experience early so that you are not clueless when you graduate! I love the independence I have developed from living on my own and I really feel at home in this apartment. It feels so good to be saving so much money, not only for myself, but for my parents as well. My only advice is that when moving off-campus you choose a person who is really on the same page and you both get along very well. I adore my roommate and really feel like this experience would have never been as enjoyable and easy without her! The pros really do outweigh the cons here. Between saving money, gaining space and learning valuable life skills, this option really is worth it and I recommend it highly. Off-campus living, especially at Siena, is not very popular but it very well may positively change your entire college dynamic! If you’re lucky, you might even stir up some exciting apartment drama….